Once upon a time, the only sources of communication were sending a letter, telegram or directly going to meet those who one wanted to interact with. As the human mind developed, a more sophisticated way of communication, the humble landline phone, was considered revolutionary as it allowed people to talk to each other without needing to travel. Over the past few years, we have seen the invention of smartphones which made landlines obsolete and gave birth to the concept of texting. Man still felt that this wasn’t the best mode of communication and video call was invented.
Today, in the lockdown period, video calling has become our saviour. Seeing our loved ones on a daily basis while maintaining social distancing has provided people with a ray of hope and a coping mechanism.
Video calls have been improvised to cater to a variety of needs. For children, who have been stuck at home and can't find activities to occupy themselves with, online schooling has provided some routine and also a way to see all their friends like they would in a regular classroom. Even business meetings are being conducted through video calls. Video calls have been used in such creative ways that a couple in Mumbai decided to tie the knot the digital way. It’s amazing how enabling technology is.
The couple decided to get married over a video call. (Photo: Twitter/ @MusadiqAalam)
While there are many positives to the privileges of Zoom calls and Facetime etc, they do not come without their own set of disadvantages. Even as we enjoy being on these platforms, we are unaware of its implications on our health. Many ophthalmologists are taking to various social media platforms to make people aware of the side effects of spending endless hours staring at screens. These include our eyes losing moisture and becoming dry, migraines due to excess strain, a saturation of energy levels, and even insomnia.
Research suggests that there has been over 300 per cent increase in exposure to screens due to the lockdown period. With many people complaining that they are taking a long time to fall asleep or not being able to sleep at all, an increase in screen time can be a possible cause. Doctors have been encouraging people to limit their screen time and practise eye exercises and lubrication. While it is difficult for people to find alternative sources of entertainment due to the lack of available options, watching news and educational stuff at intervals seems to be a good option.
It is also important to understand that not all screen time is bad. Intuitively, we know that playing an online game of chess or reading news should be preferred over playing video games for hours at a stretch. More time should be given to education-related screen time like attending online classes, meetings and learning new languages vis-à-vis whiling away time trying to figure out the next show to watch.
Video calls allow us the luxury of connecting with our loved ones without stepping out of our homes during the lockdown. (Photo: Reuters)
Video calls impact not just our health. They impact us in many other ways too. Video calls are silently changing the whole dynamics of our interactive world. It will take some time for us to understand just how much these calls are transforming us.
It is possible people are getting used to this laidback life where even schools and meetings can be attended sitting at home. We can expect reduced human interaction and the development of relationships in the coming years. At the end of the day, humans always resort to ways to make their life more comfortable, and they won’t mind having virtual family gatherings. In the times to come, e-schools, e-classes and e-commerce may become the new normal. For a country like India, where there is a disproportionate number of education institutions and business opportunities for our enormous population, the online platform is the way to go.
Whether we're grateful for being able to see our families while abiding by the lockdown rules or able to be somewhat productive at home, we can definitely say that technology has been a saviour for us in many ways, more now than ever before.